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No option left but to rip up Kensington track at Randwick

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The much-maligned Kensington track at Randwick will not host another race meeting until it is ripped up and resurfaced after another disastrous performance during a set of barrier trials on Tuesday.

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said it is not a case of if, but when, the track will be resurfaced, following reports from just five trials on Tuesday.

“There is no doubt that Village Green [grass] is not suitable as a racing surface,” V’landys said. “It looks good but its performance is not up to standard and there is only one option left available to us.

“We have given it every chance to perform and it doesn’t. It looks magnificent and the grass is healthy, it is just not suitable for racing according to our experts.”

Racing NSW took control of the supposed all-weather track from the Australian Turf Club to give it every chance to perform but has come to the conclusion the club had reached at least six months ago.

The Kensington track has been Sydney racing’s white elephant since opening two years ago and will not be ready to hold a meeting until at least next summer if resurfaced.

However  the track, which has cost more than $2.5 million in construction and upkeep cost, would be good enough for trackwork and limited barrier trials until the winter, which is the ideal time to do construction work and put down a new grass surface.

“We will be able to manage it to have grass gallops about once a week and maybe some barrier trials but it wouldn’t hold together for a race meeting,” Randwick track manager Nevesh Ramdhani said.

“The grass just hasn’t knitted and binded with the mesh and it just rips out and the damage takes a long time to repair because of the lack of a roots system.”

Racing NSW and the ATC will meet next month to make a final decision on the Kensington track.

“We have to work through the detail but we’ll be looking to resurface it. The kikuyu surface at Newcastle has worked well and we would look at something similar to it but everything will be done in conjunction with the ATC,” V’landys said.

The Kensington track was opened using the Village Green grass in October 2013 but initial compliments gave way to complaints and criticism. The surface failed to get its roots system through the mesh system and ripped out each time it was used.

Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy surveyed  the damage on the home turn after Tuesday trials and was once again disappointed.

“It is what happens every time we use the track, they just get into it and rip it out,” Murrihy said.”It hasn’t improved in the past 12 months. It could be used for some trials and trackwork but I can’t see it being able to hold a race meeting as it is now.

“If it is there it should be used by the industry in some way until time comes to replace it.”

ATC chief executive Darren Pearce said the track would be used for barrier trials again on January 12 before a decision is made on its future.

“The turf could not be healthier, but the performance is still not where it needs to be for a full race meeting,” Pearce said.

“Given the investment into the Kensington made over a long period, we will continue to work with Racing NSW to see if the surface can be improved for racing, but on what we have seen to date, the outlook is not promising.”

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